Hamilton Yacht Club, which has produced many champions despite operating on possibly the smallest piece of water in the country, celebrates its 75th jubilee over April 12 and 13, coinciding with the closing regatta for the season.
Lake Rotoroa is 156 acres, nominally about the size of Westhaven, but the area available for sailing is considerably less, given the shallow areas around the shores and the areas best avoided because of wind shadows cast by trees.
These conditions and predominantly lighter winds, create an environment where boats race in very close proximity with a premium on boat-to-boat racing, knowledge of the rules and the ability to pick and make best use of windshifts. The short legs also make the decision to fly a spinnaker a fine judgment.
For many years, banks of near-submerged weed added yet another difficulty, capable of stopping a boat dead in its tracks – leading to the local practice of quickly raising and lowering the centreboard when going about, and frequent inspections of the rudder to see how much weed was being towed.
On its founding in 1938, the club raced a mixed bag of IdleAlongs, Z’s, Y and T class 14 footers, but the post war period saw the gradual arrival of large fleets of P class, Frostbites significant fleets of Cherubs, Zephyrs, Moths, Q class, 3.7’s and Frostplys. These lighter boats could be easily trailered, and Hamilton yachtsmen increasing raced in regattas at Huntly, Te Kauwhata, Te Awamutu, Rotorua, Thames and Auckland.
The club originally raced from the city side of the lake, but shifted to a larger area of land on the western shore in the !950’s where boat lockers and a two-storey yacht Club were later constructed. Not many yacht clubs are able to increase average wind speeds, but the felling of large numbers of large gum trees on the flat land near the club exposed much of the lake to welcome westerlies blowing uninterrupted across the swamp to create more invigorating conditions on the race course..
Jubilee celebrations will take the form of an informal get together at the club on the evening of Friday April 12, and a full day of activities and evening function on the Saturday. The organisers are urging early registration and hope people will bring old photos, old boats and lots of tall stories. Click here for the official website
by Cedric Allan
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9:39 AM Sun 10 Mar 2013GMT
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